The past week has been one of great growth in nature. The hills and fields have come alive with a variety of green shades along with blooming flowers and trees. Everything seems to be growing at a rapid rate after a slow start to spring. The continued higher levels of rainfall, along with humidity and warmer temperatures, have turned the outdoors into a greenhouse and set the plants into a growing frenzy. The iris in the landscape beds around our yard grew six inches overnight, the maple tree leaves that were quarter size one day turned into baseball size in less than 24 hours, and the Mayapples look more like little trees this year with thick stalks and huge leaves.
Seeing all this growth during my runs, bike rides, and walks with the dogs made me contemplate how every entity in life has its own growth rate, season, and mechanism for changing. While the concept of mixing ingredients (light, water, time, nutrients) to create a desired outcome (growth of some sort) is the same for all of these entities, the ingredients, time required, and end product vary greatly.
My thoughts also led me back in time to when I first learned about exponential functions in math classes. These functions are often used to describe or predict growth and decay. Exponential implies very fast or increasingly rapid change of some sort. Exponential functions when graphed typically look like a sharply increasing or decreasing curve. For example, if you graph the function y = 2x, where x is an integer, the points on the y axis of the graph are 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc., and the curve looks like this:
Along for the Ride
In observing the growth this week, I found some new blooms and plants, including:
- Buttercups, made distinct with their small, deep yellow flowers standing out amid the green grass
- Lily of the valley, recognized by the delicate, small white flowers above the tulip like leaves
- Clover, identified by the three lobed formation of the leaves
- Poison ivy, standing out with its shiny three leaf formation, now reddish green in color
- Virginia creeper, recognized with its vining leaf formation and runners climbing over surrounding plants
- Rhododendron, very distinct with its smooth, green leaves and vibrant flower clusters
- Tall phlox, standing high above the other plants along the road with its purple wedgelike flower petals
I also found pine trees with pine cones forming. Watching the changes made me wonder what was actually happening during this process. After doing some research, I learned that pine trees have male and female cones. The male cones release pollen in the spring, which the wind carries to the female cones. The female cones become brown and wood-like as the seeds ripen. The cones open and release their seeds once reaching maturity, which usually occurs in the fall of the second year.
Take Me On
Along with the new blooms and plants, the weeds have joined in the growing frenzy. Thus, we began our annual weeding activities and wondering why the weeds have to grow in the gravel and in the driveway instead of someplace else. I mean, really, there are acres and acres of land for the weeds to grow upon, so why do they have to put their roots down in our driveway?
The thought made me wonder if God asks Himself similar questions about us: I give them all they need when they need it in the grand space of time, yet they still insist on relying upon their limited resources. Why do they do this?
While we don’t particularly care for what has become an annual turf war, we have found that the activity of removing the weeds from the driveway allows for much growth potential.
It has taken us years to accept that the weeding process not only removes the physical weeds it the driveway, but also the intangible weeds in the heart, mind, and body. The process is tedious, time consuming, and even frustrating. However, it does indeed have its rewards in not only a better looking driveway, but also a more open and cleaner soul, mind, and being.
Weeds and Seeds
As I was riding my bike tonight and contemplating how I was going to accomplish the things on my current to-do list and still find time to do some weeding, I wondered if God places the weeds in our lives to see what kind of seeds we really are. Do we have roots deep enough to allow us to grow, or are they shallow, leaving us vulnerable to decay? Do we allow the weeds to choke us out and take over our minds and bodies? Are we planted in good soil so that in times of distress and uncertainty, we find the nutrients we need, allowing us to continue to grow and mature?
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – Matthew 13: 18-23
Take Me Back
While weeding earlier tonight, I recalled a fond memory of my late dog, Bo. Back in 2012, I was weeding the driveway one day with him, Sadie, and my late dog Luke supervising. Bo was always one to want to help and often tried to mimic what others were doing. He literally followed Sadie like the big puppy he was, doing his best to imitate her every move. On this particular day, Bo watched intently as I dug with my trowel with one hand and pulled weeds with the other before tossing the weeds into a bucket.
At one point, I looked over to find Bo pawing at the gravel, dipping his head down, and pulling the weeds with his teeth. It was comical yet heartwarming to watch him work. The only issue was instead of tossing the weeds into a bucket or the wheelbarrow, Bo was trying to eat everything he pulled.
Running over to him, I said, “Oh, buddy, thanks for helping, but please don’t eat the weeds. You’ll get sick.”
He seemed crestfallen at first, so I stopped working long enough to pet and talk to him, explaining I sincerely appreciated his help and diligence. The conversation gave me a much needed break and Bo a chance to learn more about what we were trying to accomplish.
One Moment, Please
Sometimes I wonder if God places the weeds in our lives to make us stop, think, analyze, and reflect. In today’s fast-paced society clamoring for attention and stressed over how much work is to be done, stopping is considered a luxury at best. However, in reality, stopping is wise, prudent, and necessary. It is in taking a moment to step back that we discover who we are, what is most important, when to ask for help, where our strength lies, how we can move forward, and why we need to allow God into our lives.
Taking a moment to reflect also tests our faith and trust in God. It opens up the lines of communication between us and Him, breaking down the barriers we inadvertently build as the weeds in life take over the garden of our souls. In opening ourselves up, we find the strength we need to remove the weeds, the courage to change to help prevent the weeds from taking root, and the faith required to sustain the process of living life to its fullest.
May the growth we see in nature allow us to learn and reflect upon our journey. May taking a few moments to acknowledge God’s presence and blessings in our lives give us the strength we need along the way, and may time allow us to find growth all around.
Growth All Around
In the clouds of the sky in the early dawn breaking
Where the light leads the soul to waking,
In the mustard in the fields growing with the rye
Together to yield their harvest in due time,
In the flowers that bloom and leaves that sway
On the way through another day,
In everything we come to know through sight and sound,
May we find growth all around.
In the cow’s vetch and red clover
The crowd the stretch of the roads traveled over,
In the pollen and the rain
The follow the season’s days,
In the sun’s rising and setting hues
Providing what we need to get through,
In every aspect as time flows without sound
May we find growth all around.
In the old walnut tree and the young spring shoots
The grow together differently from their roots,
In the yellow, gold, orange, red, blue, and green
Colors that hold their own majesty,
In the space of the clouds and hum of the wind
That travel around and through and back again,
In all that the light shows us as we become found,
May we find growth all around.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
A Word of Thanks
Thanks to everyone taking time to view this week’s post. We kind of threw this together this week due to time constraints, so hopefully no one is disappointed with the content. We do the best we can with what we have and leave the rest to God.
-Lisa, Sadie, and Leo
Resources and Related Links
Exponential – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exponential
Exponential functions – http://www.purplemath.com/modules/expofcns.htm